Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29 - Day 11
“The King,” being referenced is (Mad) King Ludwig II. You ask, of what was he the king? He was the King of Bavaria, which was its own kingdom centuries ago, similar to Prussia.
Ludwig grew up in his father’s castle, Hohenschwangau (pronounced: HO-in-SCHVON-gow). That castle, beautifully decorated in classic romantic themes, was quite impressive, and the tour through it was very interesting.
Ludwig—whose brother, Otto, was declared insane at the age of 24 and was sent to live in a castle in Munich—became King of Bavaria in his mid-20s. He loved Hohenschwangau, but he had ambitions of building his own fantasy castle.
He began construction of Neuschwanstein (pronounced: NOISH-von-stine) and watched its progress carefully from his quarters in Hohenschwangau. The telescope he used to view the construction is still there, pointed out the same window (by the way, now is good time to mention that photography and filming is prohibited inside both castles).
Ludwig oversaw Neuschwanstein’s construction for 17 years. Well before its completion, he was declared mentally unfit to rule at the age of 40 in 1886. He was found dead in a lake in Munich less than a week later. The circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery.
Ludwig’s quarters in his dream castle were completed, but he only lived in the structure for 172 days. It’s pretty sad, really. Brooke and I were most impressed with his throne room. The mosaic floor was made of more than 1 million pieces of tile. The walls and ceiling must have taken thousands of hours to paint. The 96-candle chandelier was made of gilded brass and weighed more than 2000 pounds. But the room has never contained an actual throne on the lofted structure where it was designed to rest. The room was one of many that were never totally finished.
The famous view of Neuschwanstein from St. Mary’s Bridge was worth the short and easy hike.
After leaving the castles, we each had a bratwurst for lunch before driving just a few minutes north to Tegelberg, Germany. There, we rode a luge down fun and twisty course. My goal was to never use my brake the entire time; mission accomplished. I took a video with my flipcam for the entire ride. I’ll post it on my YouTube page when I get the chance.
In 1328, the Holy Roman Emperor was traveling through Bavaria and he established a monastery in the village of Ettal, Germany. Many monks still live there, and the monastery sanctuary is incredibly beautiful. When we walked in, there was a service going on and all the monks were singing (that stereotypical monk-like chanting). We sat in the back pew for a while and just looked around at all the Baroque sculpture and art work. It was tremendously impressive.
Next we drove to Oberammagau, Germany. That is the Bavarian city that hosts the world famous “Passion Play” every 10 years in the summer. Passion 2010 is going on now. The city (tiny village, really) is flooded with Christian tourists from all over the world who come to watch the huge production in which almost every resident in the city take part.
We weren’t that impressed with Oberammagau.
We had dinner at the restaurant below the Aldstadt Hotel in Fussen. Brooke had a vegetarian dish that looked like some kind of macaroni and cheese. I had venison and dumplings. I ordered lemonade to drink and was given what tasted like Sprite or 7-up. What’s up with that?
Tomorrow we plan to start the day with a tour of Linderhof. It’s the one castle that King Ludwig did live to see completed. It features fabulous gardens and the interior is decorated in the theme of Richard romantic Wagner’s operas (Ludwig and Wagner were very close friends).
From there, it’s on to Innsbruck, where we drop off our tiny Mercedes-Benz rental car (which I think I mistakenly identified as a VW in an earlier blog; sorry, I’m not a car guy).